The Winter Ball is fast approaching!

Our Winter Ball 2019 is coming up fast and it is our 5th year of holding the event! Taking place on Saturday 16 November 2019, at The Hilton Reading, this unique fundraising and networking event for organisations working on disability issues in Reading involves Autism Berkshire, Parenting Special Children, Green Health Thames Valley, The Engine Shed and the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre – and us as the organisers Stepping Forward.

Guests can enjoy a welcome glass of bubbly, three course meal and entertainment provided by covers band Love2Groove.  An auction will take place on the night, alongside a raffle with £1,000 of John Lewis vouchers as the main prize.

Tickets are £45 from Stepping Forward, or from one of the other participating charities. Email info@stepping-forward.org.uk for payment details.

All funds that Stepping Forward raise this year will go towards the creation of a Disability Hub in Reading.

The Winter Ball event came about because individually most local disability charities do not have the capacity to put on a large scale event such as a Ball. By coming together, with the generous support this year of the companies and Foundations listed below, we are able to hold an enjoyable event that raises substantial funds for organisations that are experiencing a severe shortage of resources.

Contact Us for DLA and PIP Support

Our DLA and PIP service is proving to be very popular as people of all ages come to us for advice and support in completing their forms. There is no charge for this service which is funded by a grant from Berkshire Community Foundation. Contact us for an appointment as soon as you have received your forms. If you have other questions related to the service please drop us a line at:

info@stepping-forward.org.uk

We will answer your enquiry/call you back as appropriate.   We strongly recommend that you seek support when completing the forms, particularly in the transition from DLA to PIP.

Plans for Disability Hub in Reading take shape

We have had a busy few weeks, attending local events such as the Woodley Carnival to raise funds and awareness, and welcoming local community groups and charities into the office. A local group has taken on some low-cost office space at the Hub for nine months and we are meeting some more groups this week.  We are very excited to see what happens when groups share ideas and energy in this way – do drop us a line if you would like to view the space in the daytime or the evening.

Our volunteer Sergio battles the wind at the Woodley Carnival…

If any local companies would like to invite our volunteer team into their workplace to sell raffle tickets and cake we would be very happy to do so.

Working Towards a Disability Hub!

The clock has started! We have moved into the building that we hope to transform into a Disability Hub for the Reading community. We have generously been given 12 months by our landlords to raise the sums required to buy the building!  We are grateful to them for allowing us this opportunity and look forward to working with local partners and supporters to raise this sum – creating a resource that will be part of the Reading voluntary sector community for the years ahead. Contact us if you would like to visit or use the building. We are offering hot-desking opportunities for individuals and organisations – as well as storage – whilst we raise the funds this year. Some parking is available. We are at 12A Southview Park, Marsack St, Reading RG4 5AF.

Reading Lions Supports Disability Awareness sessions in Schools

Huge thanks to Reading Lions for a donation towards our Disability Awareness work. If you are a Reading school, primary or secondary, please get in touch and book a free session for 2019.

Disability awareness is a neglected issue which receives little priority and few resources. However failure to invest in this area has multiple impacts on the rights of people with disabilities. In April 2017 the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities published its ‘list of issues’ for the UK and has asked the UK government to report on multiple issues of concern, including how it is addressing disability-related harassment and bullying of disabled children in schools and how the UK is tackling negative attitudes, in particular towards people with dementia or learning disabilities.

Winter Ball 2018 was our best ever!

Stepping Forward once again coordinated the annual Winter Ball at The Hilton on Saturday 10 November 2018 and beat the event’s fundraising record! This year this unique fundraising and networking ball for organisations working on disability issues in Reading involved a total of seven local charities: Autism Berkshire, Reading Mencap, Parenting Special Children, Green Health Thames Valley, The Engine Shed and the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre and Stepping Forward – and raised over £14,000 for the sector. We welcomed 276 guests, all of whom had bought tickets direct from the local charity that they chose to support.

Guests enjoyed a welcome glass of bubbly, three course meal and entertainment provided by covers band Love2Groove.  An auction on the night raised further funds, alongside a raffle with £1,000 of John Lewis vouchers as the main prize.

The Winter Ball event came about because individually most local disability charities do not have the capacity to put on a large scale event such as a Ball. By coming together, with the generous support this year of the companies and Foundations listed below, we are able to hold an enjoyable event that raises substantial funds for organisations that are experiencing a severe shortage of resources.

The winning raffle tickets were: Numbers 6413, 9499 and 9409.

Creating a Disability Hub

In response to the current climate of decreasing resources and low public understanding of disability issues, we would like to create a Disability Hub for use by organisations and individuals affected by disability in the area.

The disability hub will be accessible to all local groups working on disability. It will contain a meeting room, two/three small offices and a space for hot-desking along with disabled toilet facilities.  It will be a multi-purpose office space providing a range of high quality and cost-effective services to the local community, with the potential to develop new services in response to changing community needs. Services will include our ongoing Disability Advice & Support Service. 

We have identified a well-located and very reasonably-priced property in Reading and the seller has generously said that they will give us 15 months to find the purchase price of £137,500. This comes with a 966 year lease.

This investment is a strategic and valuable one for the sector at a time when land and property in Reading is rapidly being sold for commercial purposes and the smallest offices are being rented out for £12,000 annually. It would be immensely valuable for charities and voluntary organisations in Reading to have this property for free/low cost office and meeting rooms; it is located on a bus route but also has allocated parking spaces, and is a 15-20 minute walk from the town centre.

You can view our fundraising page on The Good Exchange

https://app.thegoodexchange.com/project/12436/stepping-forward/creating-a-disability-hub

 

Disability Advice & Support Service

We are delighted to announce that Stepping Forward has secured a grant from Awards for All to directly support Berkshire families to access essential resources and support for their disabled children. We will run one-to-one Advice Clinics  – initially at special schools – where we will identify support for the resource needs that will enable disabled children and young people to live as full a life as possible. This will include making applications with families to a range of trusts and foundations for support for specific areas of need, including wheelchairs, specialist equipment. We know that the right support at the right time can help children and families enormously – whether it be to access clubs, to increase mobility, to purchase essential equipment or to secure respite breaks.  Contact us at info@stepping-forward.org.uk if you would like to know more.

Disability Confident Training with Disability Rights UK, Wednesday 18 July, Reading

It is not long now until our Disability Confident training workshop with Disability Rights UK! The training will take place on Wednesday 18 July from 10am to 4pm at RISC, London St, Reading. The course is run by a trainer with lived experience of disability and many years experience of delivering training courses. It is targeted at anyone wanting to increase their awareness of disability issues or gain more confidence working with and supporting disabled colleagues or customers.

Course objectives
By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the difference between the medical and social models of disability
  • Approach and assist disabled customers or clients with confidence
  • Identify potential barriers disabled people face and potential solutions
  • Understand disability legislation, including the Equality Act, to a basic level

Course content

  • the definition of disability and the different models
  • disability myths and misconceptions
  • why disability matters
  • making things fair: what the law says
  • better communications
  • the importance of language and avoiding assumptions
  • sharing stories

Cost: £30 for voluntary sector organisations/£50 for businesses/LAs

This is a subsidised course made possible with a grant from People’s Postcode Lottery; the course is normally held in London for a cost of £110 plus VAT. We are pleased to be able to offer this at a greatly reduced rate for local organisations.

Please email us at info@stepping-forward.org.uk if you would like to register for the training course. Invoices will be sent out upon registration.

Support Autism Awareness in Sierra Leone this April

We are raising funds to promote awareness about autism in Sierra Leone this April and to encourage families to come forward for support and advice.  We know from feedback and stories from parents and carers (eg Sierra Express Media, 2014; Pan-African Experiences of Autism Conference, Dec 2017; Browne-Penn School October 2017) that parents can be put under family and community pressure to stop feeding their children, or to hide them away and to pursue harmful alternative ‘treatments’ that can be abusive and life-threatening. The Sierra Leone Autistic Society recently held a community awareness session in a rural area and were told by a mother that they were ‘too late’ as she had returned her autistic child ‘to the bush’ the previous week (ie she had abandoned her child in the forest areas).  SLAS research in the community indicates that autistic children in the Sierra Leone context are at extreme risk of witchcraft accusations and subsequent harmful treatment.

All research elsewhere shows that awareness-raising at both the macro and micro level increases understanding and improves lives.  Funds will pay for the following:

  • Airtime on the radio for the specially recorded song ‘Kick Stigma Out of Autism’;
  • Production of banners and leaflets to promote awareness and to share SLAS contact details;
  •  Football matches across the country, in all districts, to bring communities together and to talk with them about autism.  Funds will pay for PA system, refreshments and autism-themed T-shirts for the teams;
  • School assemblies, to be delivered by a local network of volunteers and partner organisations. Transportation and  refreshments for volunteers is required for this work to take place.

We expect there to be in excess of 70,000 autistic people in Sierra Leone. Everyone will know someone with autism in their community.  Please consider supporting these awareness-raising activities and enable autistic people to live lives free of stigma and violence and in which the right to a family, a community and to education are secured.

Click the link below to make a donation which will go directly to the Sierra Leone Autistic Society:

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/promoting-autism-awareness-in-sierra-leone